Letters to the Editor October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014
Opinion

Vote Yes 

on Measure F

To the Editor:

On Election Day, Santa Paula will have the opportunity to change its course for the better and insure a brighter and safer future for all of us by voting “yes” on Measure F. The 1% sales tax supplement will raise approximately $1.6 million each year, 50% of which will go to our Police Department, 25% of which will go to the Fire Department and 25% to repairing streets and roads.

Currently, our police are grossly underpaid and severely understaffed. Santa Paula officers earn, on average, 40% less than the next lowest paid law enforcement agency in Ventura County. This is shameful. We now serve as the training ground for other departments, who hire our officers away with significantly higher salaries. To make matters worse, the Santa Paula Police Department is understaffed by at least 8 officers. This situation has resulted in a public safety crisis with an unprecedented murder rate and rampant gang activity, resulting the loss of the lives of innocent citizens and a climate of fear on our streets.

In the face of these daunting challenges, Chief McLean and his officers have done an amazing job. Violent crime is down by 31% in the last 18 months and suspects have been arrested and charged in 7 of the 9 murders committed during that time. But, because of understaffing, our officers are stretched to the limit. They are frequently required to work extra shifts on their scheduled days off and forced to work way too much overtime. This is not only more expensive for the City, it is also incredibly unfair to our officers, who are required to sacrifice their family lives. Furthermore, it puts our officers at an unacceptable level of risk when they do not have sufficient backup resources. The status quo is simply not acceptable.

We deserve better. And the peace officers who put their lives on the line for us every day deserve much, much better. All of us need to take responsibility for our beautiful, unique city. We need to fulfill our financial responsibility to the people who have dedicated their lives to protect and serve all of us; our police and firefighters. We need to reclaim our streets, parks, schools and homes from those who have demonstrated no respect for the law and no regard for the law abiding citizens of Santa Paula. We need to restore Santa Paula to the peaceful, safe, clean and prosperous community it once was.  We need to take our community back..

The time is now. I urge all of my fellow Santa Paulans to vote “YES” on Measure F for  brighter and safer future for all of us.

Jim Procter

Santa Paula

Choices

To the Editor:

The following are recommendations of a fallible human being.  I hope they will be helpful.

Measure F: Yes.  With eight murders since May of 2013 and desperate need to fund street repairs, common sense demands this.

City Council: After careful evaluation, the Star has endorsed incumbents Bob Gonzales and Ralph Fernandez along with newcomer Jenny Crosswhite.  All are highly competent, bi-lingual, and by far the better.  All are committed to reducing water/sewer charges forced upon us by total failure of past councils since the 1930’s.  If only they had set aside one dollar a month, we would not have been forced into the current situation.  One of the candidates now making the most noise served on a previous council which also failed to address the problem.

Prop 1  Water Bond:  Yes I hate bonded indebtedness but we face long-term drought.

Prop 2 Rainy Day Fund:  Yes.  This is an important step toward fiscal discipline.

Prop 45 Yes.  Should Health Insurance Rate increases require approval of the State Insurance Commissioner as is now the case with auto insurance?  Absolutely.

Prop 46 Yes.  Would require physicians to check a database before prescribing certain controlled drugs, permit drug testing of doctors suspected of medical negligence or abuse, and raise the cap in malpractice suits adjusting for inflation the first time since 1975.

Prop 47 Yes.  Would reduce penalties for certain offenders convicted of non-serious, non-violent offenses from felony to misdemeanor.  Savings would be directed toward school programs, victim assistance, mental health, and drug treatments.  We have the highest percentage of incarcerated persons in both the nation and the world.  Our prisons have become universities of crime.  We spend more to incarcerate than to educate in our colleges.  Surely we can do better.

Prop 48 Yes or No.  This is a challenge to State Law regulating Casinos.  I voted NO because I oppose all of them, but this proposition is a technical issue.

Governor: Brown, Lieutenant Governor: Newsom, Attorney General: Harris,  Controler: Yee, Treasure: Chiang, Secretary of State: Padilla, Insurance Commissioner: Jones, Superintendent of Public Instruction: Torlakson

Assembly: Williams, Congress: Brownley

Delton Lee Johnson

Santa Paula

November 4 will be a big day 

To the Editor:

November 4 will be a big day, nationally and locally here in Santa Paula. I know we have some fine people running for Council, in fact, I am sure all who are running are fine, well-motivated individuals. There are three votes to be cast for the three seats. Two of the people running have been on the Council for some time and participated in momentous decisions regarding the building and financing of the new, highly acclaimed, and from what I have heard, “trouble-free” waste water treatment plant built and managed by PERC and financed by Alinda. 

A prior Council elected to build a bio-membrane, state of the art plant - and that is what was built, albeit by a different company. The older Council (Mary Ann Krause was Mayor) opted for a custom built plant designed by consultants in Orange County and sized to allow for about 3 million gallons per day processing, in other words, “planned growth”. The costs to build that plant, to be directly financed by the City and owned by the City outright, varied from $120 million to a cut-rate figure at the last moment (less capacity and redundancy) of about $80 million. 

The undersigned was at the meetings and personally heard these numbers. Of course, these were estimates, not hard and fast guaranteed numbers, and the City would have had to float bonds at the then current interest rates (which definitely were Not  the 1 and 1/2% quoted by  Mary Ann Krause in her recent letter to the Times; those are Today’s lowest in history interest rates). In the mid-2000’s (2004-2007) we had high interest rates. We now have the lowest rates in history, so Ms. Krause has erroneously stated the opposite. Bear in mind as well: there was No finalized design, No definite financing, No definite interest rate, No definite construction schedule, and No agreement that the plant’s designers and builders would hold the City harmless for any future violations of Regional Water Quality Control Board fines for future discharges or failures in a new plant,  All of which the “Design, Build, Finance and Operate” plan the City got from PERC, if fact,  Does Encompass

Those critical of the decision made to go with PERC, conveniently, do not tell you  Any of those things in their political attacks on the present Council. On top of that, the City would have had to raise approximately 20% more than the construction cost, whatever that turned out to be, to build the plant for the fees charged by the underwriters and bond sales people And this did not include the always present, and unhappy, surprising “change orders”. 

The undersigned was pretty well plugged into this situation then, with the various proposals, and have personally built government water projects in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Change orders are how we managed to actually make the bottom line on most projects; “estimates” are just that, they are not guarantees. All the talk of what Could have been is based upon hot air, frankly. 

So now after all is said and done, and water and sewer rates have risen everywhere in California, and in Fillmore, and the economy has stumbled badly (trust me, we are all hurting) those who wanted to go with the older plan have now decided to attack the current Council for “mismanagement” or some such political term of art. How convenient to re-write history for political pay-back, which totally and completely ignores the fact that the plant As built is superb and is highly regarded nationally and internationally by experts in the field And has proven to be exactly what was contracted for by the City Council. This is reality, not conjecture.

Ralph Fernandez and Bob Gonzales deserve to be re-elected to the Council. All that is being put forth about “mismanagement” is nonsensical palaver. Has Santa Paula been forced to declare bankruptcy, a “solution” or “possibility” which even Mary Ann Krause raised as Mayor?  It was so reported in the press.

Remember too, the older Council Ms. Krause was a member of voted to have Centex build out Fagan Canyon. In case you are not aware, Centex went belly up all over the United States (I saw some projects of theirs) and no longer exists as a stand-alone builder. What would that have meant to Santa Paula in Fagan Canyon?  Further, that Council accepted almost all the subsidized lower income housing that was proposed, which pay little or no real estate taxes, a problem the current Council handled very well and was able to negotiate a much improved, very fine project by Cabrillo on Santa Barbara Street (much credit to architect Ralph Fernandez on the Council and now standing for re-election).

Things could always be better than they are. All of us over 40 could use a new body with all new parts, but then there is reality and the judgment that comes with age and experience, and Ralph Fernandez and Bob Gonzales have the judgment and experience that counts. They should be appreciated for their fine work and deserve to be re-elected in the opinion of this writer.

Richard Main

Santa Paula

Vote for Ralph Fernandez

To the Editor:

I first became acquainted with Ralph Fernandez in the fall of 2011, shortly after retiring to Santa Paula from Kern County.  It was at that time my wife and I discovered that the Steckel Park Aviary, a favorite childhood destination of mine in the early ‘70’s, was slated for demolition by the county. 

Without hesitation we joined together with a group of other concerned citizens, led by Ralph, to save the aviary and the years of collective memories it held for so many people.  I found Ralph to be a tireless community organizer and laborer; for countless hours of fund raising, research, and material sourcing;  for over ten months of actual construction and the ensuing manual labor; and for holding us all together when adversarial forces threatened to pull us apart.  

It should be clear to everyone concerned that Ralph is dedicated to the City of Santa Paula, its people and its history.  These are not qualities you can simply “elect into place.”  It has to be in your blood and is indeed in Ralph’s.  I consider Ralph and his family to be some of my wife and I’s closest personal friends and I cannot think of a candidate more qualified for your vote for Santa Paula City Council than Ralph Fernandez.

Nick G. Dukellis

Santa Paula

Support Measure F for our Youth

To the Editor:

The individual members of the Steering Committee of the Santa Paula Police/Clergy Council, a faith based organization that exists to promote peace in Santa Paula, are resolutely in support of Measure F. Like many of our fellow citizens, we have watched in dismay as gangs and drugs swept into this town and threatened the youth of our community. Many of our congregations have been touched by the uptick in violent crime and, alongside our parishioners, we have mourned the loss of friends, loved ones and neighbors.

As clergy and business leaders, we feel it is our responsibility to speak up for the safety of our community, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable among us. 

Currently, Santa Paula’s police department is underfunded and understaffed. It does not have the resources it needs to put dangerous criminals behind bars, let alone to create programs that will ensure our children do not venture down the path of gangs and drugs in the first place.

When it comes to public safety, our town needs to be thinking long-term. We need to address today’s safety challenges while laying the groundwork for future generations of children to grow up free from the shadow of violence. 

Measure F is expected to raise about $800,000 every year for policing. These funds will allow the Police Department to hire more officers, double their gang unit and add a resource officer to our school district. Just as importantly, that money can be used to create youth intervention programs to ensure our kids start out - and stay - on the right track.

We urge our fellow Santa Paulans to take responsibility for the future of Santa Paula and its youth and vote ‘yes’ on Measure F. We owe it to our children.

Sincerely,

Santa Paula Police/Clergy Council Steering Committee:

Pastor Adelita Garza

Pastor Johnny Flores

Pastor Margarita LaRue

Margarita Flores

Chaplain Kay Wilson-Bolton

Howard Bolton 

Let’s do some simple math

To the Editor

Let’s do some simple math. (An acre foot  = 325,770 gallons).  Agriculture is allocated 1.5 acre feet of water per acre, per year.  That is 488,550 gallons per acre, per year.  Santa Paula uses 5000 afy and let’s assume that 1000 afy is subtracted out for business or industrial use.  This leaves 4000 afy of water for approximately 30,000 residents.  That is 1,303,080,000 gallons divided by 30,000 then divided by 365 days = 119 gallons per person per day.  A family of four in Santa Paula uses 476 gallons per day.  This is comparable to state averages of around 130 gallons per person, per day. 

Assume that a developer converts agriculture land and gets 10 units per acre.  The 488,550 allocation is 48,550 gallons per unit then divided by 365 days = 133 gallons per unit, per day.  If a family of four lived in a unit, they would be short 343 gallons daily.

Assume the developer converts agriculture land and gets 20 units per acre.  The 488,550 is now 24,427 gallons per unit then divided by 365 days = 67 gallons per unit, per day.  A family of four would be short 409 gallons daily.  Higher density = less water per unit. 

When completed in five years, East Area 1 will bring in 4000 new residents at 119 gallons per person,  per day.  That is a daily usage of 476,000 gallons or 1.46 acre feet.  In other words, EA1 total usage for just one day will be almost equal to one year of water allocation to one acre of agriculture.

Clearly, development uses lots more water than agriculture does.  Furthermore, in times of drought, agriculture can put fields into fallow and not use any water at all.  Agriculture fluctuates with water availability.  On the other hand, development creates a constant high demand for groundwater in both rainy seasons or drought.  Development does not fluctuate with water availability.

Do the math yourself.  Do your own research.  Think for yourself.  Biased consultants and special interest politics are in play.  That is another reason for a moratorium. 

John Wisda

Santa Paula

Re: Measure F - S.P. Tax Hike

To the Editor:

Two points to make regarding the upcoming election; Measure F and the public endorsement made by Fr. Charles of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Santa Paula. 

The first is that no good is ever achieved by over-taxing its citizenry and the next is the fine line of the clergy when it endorses any political measure according to the IRS. The group that is pushing the City’s tax increase has done a splendid job of selling the tax increase although in the end the likelihood of achieving their real goal will never be met; more police but less enforcement, a pittance more for street paving but the vast majority of the streets will remain unpaved. 

Before you vote on November 4, 2014, ask yourself; will extra police really help the safety of Santa Paula or will the justice system merely negate the purpose of more police officers? We are a nation that is suppose to follow the “rule of law” but does that really happen; No! The last police chief was more “politically correct” than a real Santa Paula chief law enforcement officer who enforces the “laws of the land”. 

How many SWAT teams and other law enforcement agencies have broken down doors and arrested gang thugs and other criminals only to be released back into the streets of Santa Paula by the justice system? 

Santa Paula can generate more tax revenue to pay for more police but the real problems are with the justice system and our lawless society. Regarding Fr. Charles, he is aware and sympathetic to struggles of the working man but his endorsement of this tax hike is counterproductive to the difficulty of getting ahead in life with the endless burden of taxes on the working man. For example, Fr. Charles “would you have one of your parishioners pay an extra $300 on a new $30,000 Chevrolet purchased in Santa Paula just to support Measure F or would that be considered “milk money” as some consider this “chump change”?   

An article in the Wall St. Journal reported that millions of Americans haven’t had a raise in after-inflation incomes but the U.S. Treasury took in $3.013 trillion in taxes for fiscal 2014. This was an increase of 8.6% over 2013. Individual income tax receipts rose 5.9% to a record $1.394 trillion, while payroll taxes rose 8% to pass the $1 trillion for the first time and corporate income tax increased 16% to $321 billion and yet we are over $17 trillion in debt and climbing. 

In November, 2012, the lazy, uninformed, complacent, naïve and easy to fleece majority of California voted for a tax increase and now it seems popular in Santa Paula to be in favor of another tax increase! 

In summary, does it make sense to add more payroll and future pension funds to the public coffers if there isn’t a justice system to follow the “rule of law”? 

Andrew F. Castaneda

Santa Paula

It’s that 

time again!

To the Editor:

With the good decisions made by the majority of our current City Council, they have made many good decisions that have kept our city solvent. We need to keep Bob Gonzales and Ralph Fernandez, on the city council to enable us, as a city to continue the forward progress.

Let us not take 10 steps backward, let us as a city continue forward.

Vote!! Bob Gonzales and Ralph Fernandez

Measute F - is vital to the safety of our city

Maiya Herrera

Santa Paula

Please Support Measure F

 To the Editor:

On November 4, the citizens of Santa Paula have an opportunity to address some of the most serious problems facing our town: public safety issues and streets in disrepair.  We can address these problems by voting YES on Measure F, which will raise money for our severely underfunded police and fire departments, and also provides funding to fix our streets.

As a life-long resident of Santa Paula, I don’t recall a time when public safety was a more critical issue.  The statistics on the murders and violent crime in our town are appalling.  I believe Chief McLean and his force are doing the best job they can, but there can be no question that our resources are inadequate.  Why are the citizens of Santa Paula settling for an underfunded and understaffed police force in the face of rising crime, gang and drug problems?  And if we do nothing, it will only get worse.   

Increases in taxes are never popular, but the proposed Measure F tax equates to just a penny on the dollar, and it does not tax essential items like medications, most groceries, rents or services.  It is a small cost to pay for increased safety and ensuring that emergency response personnel will be there for us in our time of need, not to mention that it guarantees more of our streets can be repaired. 

I hope you’ll join me in voting yes on Measure F and making Santa Paula a safe and beautiful city! 

Kathleen Hobson

Santa Paula





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